October is AAC Awareness Month – ‘I’ve got a lot to say!’

‘I’ve got a lot to say’ was the theme of the party organised for a group of young clients and their caregivers at the Enabling Village on 11 October to [...]

‘I’ve got a lot to say’ was the theme of the party organised for a group of young clients and their caregivers at the Enabling Village on 11 October to celebrate the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Awareness Month.

The group of seven boys and girls, aged 5 to 12 years old, attends training at Tech Able to learn to express themselves and communicate with others better using AAC devices.

The party kicked off with an ice-breaker to get the children to introduce themselves to each other. Seven-year-old Janelle (above left), who has cerebral palsy, used her switch and multiple-message device to say her name and a greeting -‘happy to see everyone’. Ruo En, a sassy 7-year old with cerebral palsy (above right), who usually only limits her expressions to single words, showed off by saying, “Hello, Everyone. I hope you have a wonderful time!”

After the introductions, the children had to select their choice of activities. There were three activity booths set up – a food stall, a photo booth and a balloon sculpting booth. Staff manning the booths were trained prior to the party on how to facilitate communication with the children by using strategies such as waiting, Aided Language Stimulation and provision of object choices. Each booth was equipped with a low-tech communication board and a computer tablet which the facilitators could use.

The children had fun using their communication systems to choose their food and the accessories they wanted at the photo booth.

Lastly, the children were each given a present, chosen specially for them based on their interest, personality, cognitive and physical abilities. Before they got their present, the children had to express via their communication system that they wanted the present. We heard a resounding stream of ‘I want a present!’, ‘Yes, I want that!’, ‘Present!’ from the children.

It was a wonderfully ‘noisy’ day. For the adults present, there was a greater realisation of the power of AAC and how it facilitates communication for individuals who are unable to express themselves vocally. For the children, they proved to everyone and to themselves that, like all other children, they too have a lot to say!

The SPD assistive technology (AT) team at Tech Able provides AT assessments and training to people with disabilities all ages and abilities so that they can overcome barriers and maximise potential at work, in school and for play. AAC is an area of focus at Tech Able.

Children who have complex communication difficulties, such as Janelle and Ruo En, learn to use a variety of AAC systems – low tech communication boards, hi tech computerised speech generating devices and single message devices and switches, to express themselves and let us into their world